National hunt racing tests every sinew of a racehorse, as thoroughbreds jump over obstacles in varying conditions to try and bag that coveted victory and look to etch their name in the history of the jumping game.
Taking place throughout the year, national hunt racing is at its best during the Autumn and Winter months with trainers targeting their horses at specific events and the two pinnacles of the game would be gaining a winner at the Cheltenham Festival, which takes place in March or the Grand National, which is still the most popular race in the horse racing calendar.
The Cheltenham Festival will see the crème de la crème from the jumping world flock to the Gloucestershire venue and over the four-day extravaganza there is an array of top class contests on offer with the Cheltenham Gold Cup taking centre stage on the final day of the jamboree.
However, the Champion Hurdle will see the top class speedsters line up on the opening day, whilst the Queen Mother Champion Chase and World Hurdle offer yet more Grade One action. Bolstered by a multitude of competitive events throughout the week, the 27-race festival provides the jumping fan with a superb spectacle.
Although it sits close to jumping fans hearts, for many it would be the Grand National that is the most precious, as a maximum of 40 horses will line up at Aintree to contest the worlds greatest steeplechase. A race that really propels the Sport Of Kings to the back pages of the newspapers, the Grand National is the toughest test on the national hunt calendar and it is a dream for all involved to win the 4m 4f contest, which sees 30 fences jumped in a race that legends are made.
Taking place in April, its not only the Grand National that attracts of lot of interest, but the three-day Aintree meeting will see the amateurs given a chance to ride round the unique National fences in the Foxhunters Chase, whilst many of the Cheltenham Festival runners will line up again to try and cement their place in their specific division with the likes of the Aintree Hurdle, Liverpool Hurdle and Manifesto Novices Chase starring in what is another treasured possession of the jumping game.
Even though the aforementioned brace of national hunt spectacles exhibit jump racing in its best light, the whole season provides a plethora of top class contests and whether you are interested in Grade One action or competitive handicap racing, there will be something for you.
Boxing Day will see the staying chasers come to the fore with the King George VI Chase attracting a bumper crowd at Kempton Park over the festive period, whilst the likes of the Hennessy Gold Cup and Newbury and the Betfair Chase at Haydock Park will provide vital clues to the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
The home of national hunt, Cheltenham provides top class action and their Paddy Power Gold Cup meeting is one of the leading meetings of the year, whilst the Greatwood Handicap Hurdle and International Hurdle can often throw up a potential to the Champion Hurdle.
As well as England providing some top notch equine action, the Welsh and Scottish Nationals are another couple of events that sit in the higher echelons of the national hunt season and with the Scottish National taking place at Ayr a week after the Grand National, some horses have beenhanded the tough task of both events in the space of seven days.
Major Races in the National Hunt Calendar